When Good Publications Go Bad (Or Just Do Something Really Stupid)

“Wow, I expected better from PDN.”

The message board title on the photography website SportsShooter.com automatically captured my curiosity. “PDN” referred to Photo District News, one of (in my opinion) the leading publications that covers the business of photography. The magazine had launched a new digital publication aimed at female photographers, which was nothing out of the ordinary. Once a male dominated field, many women have now taken over and redefined several areas of the business including family portraiture, weddings and even boudoir photography.

PDN took the liberty of setting all of that back a couple of decades with the material they packed into this thing. A selection of article titles:

“Stay Smashing: Follow these tips from Smashbox Cosmetics global pro lead artist Lori Taylor and avoid makeup meltdown during arduous summer shoot.”

“Seasonal Flats: These flats will keep your feet covered, comfortable and cute while you’re on photo shoots.”

“Step by Step: Create these beautiful paper lanterns for your home or studio.”

“In Mint Condition: Stay on trend with these green accessories.”

Feel free to check out the rest of the train wreck here.  To their credit they were kind enough to throw in a couple of articles on technique and business (how progressive!).

The interesting thing, though, was the opinions professional articles had on the content. They ranged from anger over the subject matter to lack of surprise, saying that many photographers were focusing on fluff, rather than technique and business. Some even said that it really didn’t matter, since the target audience wasn’t able to compete and wouldn’t last in the marketplace.

Here are my thoughts:

1. This is a slap in the face to women in the industry. It’s like a respected business magazine running makeup tips for businesswomen. Interestingly enough, the week this came out I received two other photography magazines, “Rangefinder” (owned by Nielsen Business Media, which also publishes PDN) and “Professional Photographer.” Both magazines happened to run several articles featuring women and, get ready to be shocked, they actually focused on the business aspect of photography! No accessories to be found.

2. Yes, there are a number of photographers out there that value style over substance and couldn’t care less about the business aspect. While they might not be a direct threat to experienced professional photographers, it’s one more roadblock they have to deal with in doing business.

An interesting twist to this story is that not long after the uproar started, Nielsen Media released this statement:

Dear readers,

On July 10th The Nielsen Photo Group, parent company of Photo District News, Rangefinder and other publications and photography events, introduced a new, free digital magazine edition of PIX for photo enthusiasts. The content of this edition is specifically geared toward women who enjoy photography as a hobby, featuring articles and product suggestions intended to inspire women to shoot more and create better photographs.

An e-mail announcing PIX was sent to The Nielsen Photo Group’s entire audience including hobbyists, students, emerging and professional photographers. The e-mail introducing PIX mistakenly had the name Photo District News in the sender line.

We value your opinion and are dedicated to learning about what you want to see in future issues of PIX. Our success lies in understanding the needs of all photographers and continually innovating to meet your ever-changing desires. Please feel free to e-mail our marketing director, Michael Zorich at michael.zorich@nielsen.com with suggestions for what you’d like to see in future editions of PIX, the photography lifestyle digital magazine for women.

Thank you

Maybe if they would’ve taken this approach to begin with, this whole mess could’ve been avoided.

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